The Federal Trade Commission, along with 46 agencies from 38 states and the District of Columbia, has stopped a massive telefunding operation that bombarded 67 million consumers with 1.3 billion deceptive charitable fundraising calls (mostly illegal robocalls). The defendants collected more than $110 million using their deceptive solicitations. Associated Community Services (ACS) and a number of related defendants have agreed to settle charges by the FTC and state agencies that they duped generous Americans into donating to charities that failed to provide the services they promised.
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A sprawling fundraising operation that allegedly scammed consumers out of millions of dollars will be permanently banned from charitable fundraising along with its owner and others involved in its operation as a result of a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission and Attorneys General of New York, Virginia, Minnesota, and New Jersey.
The operation is made up of multiple companies all under the control of owner Mark Gelvan, along with his associates Thomas Berkenbush, William English, and Damian Muziani. The complaint filed by the FTC and the states alleges that the defendants served as the primary fundraisers for a number of sham charities that were the subject of numerous law enforcement actions.
FTC Joins Four States in Action to Shut Down Alleged Sham Charity Funding Operation That Bilked Millions From Consumers
In July 2017, the FTC obtained court orders against this Maryland-based office supply operation charged with tricking small businesses, non-profit organizations, and other consumers into paying for overpriced office and cleaning supplies they never ordered. The stipulated orders setting the FTC’s complaint barred the company and its principals from telemarketing office and cleaning supplies. It also imposed a financial judgment against them, resulting in the Commission sending refund checks totaling more than $11.6 million to small businesses and other organizations in August 2019.
Three Utah-based firms and their owner, which a federal court jury in 2016 found deceptively and illegally called more than 117 million consumers pitching their movies, have agreed to a proposed court order settling the FTC’s charges against them. The DOJ (DOJ) secured the defendants’ agreement to the proposed order imposing civil penalties and prohibiting telemarketing abuses, and filed it with the court on the behalf of the FTC.
FTC Testifies Before Congress about Proposed Bills That Address the Agency’s Ability to Protect Consumers and Competition
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